While every practice may be unique, there’s one common theme amongst practice owners and practice managers across the board. That is, there never seem to be enough hours in the day. Being too busy causes more than just stress. It can hinder the growth of your practice. After all, if you’re spending all of your time working in your business, how can you find the time and energy to work on your business?
The good news is, there are a few proven strategies that, when implemented, can actually save you up to two hours a day. Imagine what you could accomplish with an extra couple of hours! Let’s take a look.
Plan Your Time
One of the biggest reasons people feel overwhelmed is that they fail to plan for what they want to accomplish in advance. If you’re just winging it each day, not only are you not using your precious time wisely, but you’re wasting any extra time trying to manage your day on the fly. Furthermore, without a plan, you can and probably will easily lose track of important tasks. This can hurt your client satisfaction rates, which can impact your bottom line.
Be disciplined about setting goals (daily, weekly, monthly and annual), create a schedule and stick to it. Also, determine when you are most productive and build your calendar around those windows to maximize your output.
Did you know that once interrupted, it can take the brain an average of 25 minutes to get back on task? That lost time really adds up, especially when you’re trying to run a successful veterinary practice. To avoid this, you need to make a conscious effort to eliminate or at least reduce the number of distractions you’re dealing with throughout your day.
Whether it’s scheduling specific blocks of time to check email or return calls, designating a window in which you are available to answer questions or simply closing your office door while you focus on the top items on your to-do list, figure out what works best for you and implement it.
When you’ve determined what techniques you will use to eliminate workplace distractions, you’ll need to educate your staff so they can adjust accordingly. For instance, let’s say you’ve decided that every day, between the hours of 1pm and 2pm, you will work uninterrupted. Make sure everyone on the team is well aware of this new rule so they can adhere to it. As a reminder, wear a hat or hang something on your doorknob. It may sound silly, but it’ll get results, so why not?
Harvard Business Review surveyed 182 senior managers in a range of industries. Here’s what they discovered:
- 65% said meetings keep them from completing their own work
- 71% said meetings are unproductive and inefficient
- 64% said meetings come at the expense of deep thinking
Does that seem like a worthwhile use of time? Not really. Yet, research indicates that executives spend an average of 23 hours a week in meetings. Obviously, this is a broad overview and not specific to the veterinary industry, but it’s eye-opening nonetheless.
If your week is muddled with endless meetings, it may be time to change your approach. Start by assessing whether a formal meeting is actually necessary or whether the topic at hand could be communicated by other means, such as email. If you do determine a meeting is needed, use an agenda and stick to it. This will enable you to optimize the time and avoid going over.
Be strategic about emails.
Remember those workplace distractions we just mentioned? Well, email is one of the biggest ones. It’s hard to ignore those incoming messages, but if you stop what you’re doing every time something new hits your inbox, you are undoubtedly losing minutes or even hours a day.
Let’s say it takes you about a minute to read each email and then 1 to 2 minutes to respond. Now, let’s say you receive around 40 messages a day. Checked individually, those 40 messages are 40 distractions costing you 80 to 120 minutes a day! And that’s not even taking into account the time it takes for you to get back on task.
Obviously, you can’t ditch email altogether, but you can control when and how you handle this daily task. Instead of fielding each message ad hoc, designate time within your schedule that will be dedicated to cleaning out your inbox. For example, set aside an hour each morning before you start your day and another hour before you go home. This simple scheduling trick can save you a tremendous amount of time.
What could you accomplish if you had an extra 2 hours to use each and every day? By applying the suggestions above, you can optimize your schedule, eliminate waste and find that extra time you need to really bring your practice to the next level.